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15

Nov, 2018

Crompton inducted into PONY's Wall of Fame.

It comes down to three reasons why North Zone, South Region, Division Director Randy "Blue" Crompton has remained an active member of PONY Baseball and Softball for over 30 years. First, it is because of his passion for positively affecting children’s lives. Second, it is because of the friendship and bond he’s developed with North Zone Vice President Steve Miller. Third, it is because of the love and support from his family, namely his wife Gina.

This past weekend at the PONY North Zone Meeting in Marion, Illinois, Crompton was inducted into PONY Baseball and Softball’s Wall of Fame for his dedication and service to PONY, both in his local community of Southern Illinois and across the world. He said he bought into PONY’s mission to Protect Our Nation’s Youth for over three decades ago and still believes in it to this day.

“It’s an amazing reward for something that I love doing,” said Crompton. “I still think we have to watch out for all of those kids, all of those little guys and girls. For me to receive an honor, a reward, for doing what I love doing is just an honor itself. It’s amazing to me and tears me up a little.”

While being around Herrin Jr. Ball League in Herrin, Illinois forever, Crompton began his PONY career as a volunteer coach back in 1986-87, coaching his eldest son Seth. He joined Herrin’s board of directors in 1988-89, helping out in various capacities. It was in the early 1990’s that Crompton became a PONY Field Director and by the late-90’s, he was a Region Director for Southern Illinois. He officially joined PONY’s International Board of Directors in 2006, serving as a member of the Baseball Rules Committee also. In addition to his Region Director duties, Crompton’s been a Tournament Director for the Colt World Series.

“What keeps me with PONY is my love of being around the kids and feeling like we can make a difference in these kids’ lives by giving them something constructive to do, especially in the summer,” said Crompton.

When he looks back on his PONY career, the first fond memory that comes to Crompton’s mind is the Champions League. In the mid-2000’s, following a trip to Joplin, Missouri where he witnessed a game for special needs players at the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars, Miller began what would later become PONY’s Champions League for players with special needs. When Miller came back with the idea, Crompton said he was all-in. He jumped right on-board to help.

“Since that date in 2004-05, we’ve spent every Thursday night at the ballpark,” said Crompton. “Each week, I can’t wait for it to get here.”

He most certainly considers this past year’s Colt World Series in Marion, Illinois to be among his favorite memories because he witnessed the players’ eyes light up when they walked into Rent One Park, home of the Southern Illinois Miners Frontier League team.

“You could just see it,” said Crompton. “They were like ‘wow,’ kind of like they were walking onto Wrigley Field. I’ll never forget that."

Seeing kids from other parts of the country and world interact with each other and build lasting friendships at the Colt World Series is another memory that puts a smile on Crompton’s face.

“Before you know it, you’ll find someone who can speak a little Korean or Spanish or Dutch and you’ll see three or four of them hanging out with three or four guys from Texas or Michigan or Pennsylvania, wherever they’re from,” said Crompton.

Crompton admits he felt bashful because he was at a loss for words when he received his award from Miller, who he considers to be his best friend.

“I can’t imagine anybody else in this world that I’d rather receive that award from,” said Crompton. “You not only get the award, but from a guy who brought you into this organization and is your best friend. It was an amazing thing for me.”

Despite being best friends, Crompton says the two don’t always agree on certain issues, but they tend to keep their disagreements behind closed doors and hash things out before they publicly take a stance. They’re on the same page. Crompton said Miller’s confidence in him to operate proficiently as the Colt World Series Tournament Director was a part of the decision process in moving the event to Marion, Illinois. Crompton greatly appreciated Miller’s endorsement.

“We just like to know, at the end of the day, that what we’re shooting for and discussing is in the best interest of those kids,” said Crompton.

Living in Herrin, Crompton is a father to four children (Seth, Adam, Shanna and Sheena) and seven grandchildren. He gives all of the credit for receiving PONY’s Wall of Fame honor to his wife Gina, who he said is the mainstay behind it all and the backbone of the operation.

“I go out and play baseball and do my PONY stuff and my wife takes care of everything else,” said Crompton. “She doesn’t get many accolades for it, but I’ll tell you, because of her, I am able to spend this much time with PONY. This award is as much hers as it is mine, if not more.”

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